The so-called “war on terror” that the Pentagon has waged since Sept. 11, 2001, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria, along with “terrorism prevention” programs by the Department of Homeland Security, have cost $5.6 trillion, according to a study published by the Watson Institute at Brown University on Nov. 8. This is more than twice the amount that the Pentagon had announced.
Besides the wars mentioned above, another $10 trillion has gone to the Pentagon and associated departments since 2001. The “war on terror” created some 18 million jobs. If that money had instead been spent on vitally needed education, 38 million good-paying jobs would have been created. (thebalance.com, Aug. 10)
Instead: “[In 2015] the Pentagon spent $43 million on one gas station in Afghanistan. Two contract psychologists were paid $80 million for designing the CIA’s torture program. After 15 years, the only winners in the war on terror have been the contractors.” (theintercept.com, Sept. 10, 2016) According to the Watson study, this spending is largely funded through supplemental appropriations rather than the direct military budget and is “secretly” added to the national debt.
What have these fantastic sums of money bought for the poor and working people of the world? At least 1.3 million people have died as a result of this “war on terror,” and more than 10 million have been forced to flee their homes. All of this has sparked firestorms of anger and rage that have spawned directed and uncontrolled attacks on innocent people around the globe.
Yes, the 9/11 attack was a terrible event. Its stated motive was the removal of thousands of U.S. soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia. Why would waging imperialist wars around the globe, whether directly or by proxy, lessen the threat to workers and oppressed people in the U.S.?
The decay of the imperialist system has created a new wave of mass anger in the U.S. Both the Trump regime and Bernie Sanders hope to harness that anger in their movements. Sanders even talks about socialism and the working class. The leaders of the Democratic Party are railing against the Republican tax cuts as a bonanza for the wealthy and big business at the expense of the “middle class.” True enough.
But on Sept. 18, by an overwhelming margin of 89-8, the Senate passed a $700 billion Pentagon budget bill, surpassing even what Trump had requested. Nearly all Democrats in both the House and the Senate voted for the bill. Even Elizabeth Warren, a so-called “progressive,” voted for it.
Why? Because this influx of cash is essential to some of the largest banks and corporations in the country. And the leaders of both parties are all in favor of imperialist war.
These well-heeled senators and congressmembers would have the workers and poor fight over the leftover scraps after the Pentagon and its backers get their share. Health care, education, disaster relief, all that and more take a back seat to more ships, more bombs, more tanks, more drones and more money for the rich.
Only by building a revolutionary movement strong enough to shut down the Pentagon can the workers and oppressed get our fair share of the immense wealth that we produce — which is ALL of it. Money for jobs and human needs, not war and profit!